Health officials: Get a flu shot

Published 6:30 am Sunday, September 29, 2013

With children back in school and autumn weather taking hold, local health officials are calling for nearly all Mower County residents to get a flu shot.

“The sooner you can get it, you’re protected then throughout the winter,” Community Health Nursing Supervisor Pam Kellogg said.

Flu vaccines are recommended for nearly everyone ages 6 months and older. Yet just 45 percent of the population followed that advice last year. Flu is particularly risky for seniors, children, pregnant women and people of any age with asthma, heart disease and other chronic diseases.

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Flu season typically starts in October and peaks around the holidays, according to Kellogg. Vaccines typically last a year, but that doesn’t mean people should hold off this year.

“It’s never too soon,” Kellogg said.

This year, Americans have an unprecedented number of vaccine options to choose from: The regular shot; the nasal spray; an egg-free shot for those allergic to eggs; a high-dose shot just for those 65 and older; and a tiny-needle shot for the squeamish. The bigger change: A small number of the regular flu shots, and all of the FluMist nasal vaccine, will protect against four strains of influenza rather than the traditional three.

“There’s something for everyone this year,” said the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat.

Pharmacist Chris Meyer said Medicap Pharmacy should have the four-strain vaccination available in the future.

Meyer recently talked with officials from the Centers for Disease Control, and he said the four-strain vaccination will best serve children.

The three-strain vaccine immunizes against two A flu strains and a B strain; the four-strain vaccine adds a B strain. The A strain is more virulent for adults, and the B strain is more virulent for children.

More children than ever got vaccinated against the flu last year, and health officials urge families to do even better this time around. Far too many young and middle-aged adults still forgo the yearly protection, the CDC warned.

A severe flu strain swept the country last winter, sparking a scramble for last-minute vaccinations. There’s no way to predict if this year will be as bad. But it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so health officials say early fall — before flu begins spreading widely — is the best time to start immunizations.

“Now is the time to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Paul Biddinger of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Don’t wait until it’s in your community.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

How and where to get your vaccine

Mayo Clinic Health System – Austin

Flu vaccine clinics for school-age children have been scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 5 and 12, and for all ages from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 2, 9, and 16 on the second floor of the clinic, use the north elevators. Appointments are required for all of these clinics, or to schedule an appointment to receive the flu vaccine outside of these clinic dates, call 507-433-8758.

Those who already have an appointment with their regular health care providers can ask to receive the flu vaccine at that time. Flu vaccine is covered by most insurance.

Other Mayo Clinic Health System location flu vaccine clinic dates include:

—Oct. 11 – Mayo Clinic Health System in Adams from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. No appointment necessary.

—Oct. 18 – Mayo Clinic Health System in LeRoy from 8:30 a.m. to noon. No appointment necessary.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine unless they have a valid contraindication. Children younger than 9 require two doses of the flu vaccine one month apart, if it’s the first time they’ve been vaccinated for the flu.

For more information on influenza and the types of flu vaccine available, call 507-379-2211, or go to

Where else can you get a flu vaccine?

• Mower County Community Health: Injection and FluMist available during shot clinics from 3 to 4:30 p.m. every Thursday, but only for people without health insurance or for people on medical assistance. Cost: $21; free with medical assistance. As of early last week, Community Health only had child vaccines, but officials expected to receive adult vaccines soon. Shots and flu mist are both available.

• Hy-Vee Pharmacy: Flu injections will be available starting in mid-October for people age 18 and older during pharmacy hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Supply will be limited. Injections are available on a walk-in basis during pharmacy business hours. Cost: To be determined.

• Shopko Pharmacy: Injection only for residents age 18 and older for $30 without insurance. Available on walk-in basis during business hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

• Sterling Drug Pharmacy: Three-strain injections for $30 and FluMist for $40. FluMist is for people age 2 to 49. Injectable is for ages 5 and above. Available by walk-in during business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 to 3 p.m. Sundays.

• Smart Clinic in Sterling Main: Flu injections for $30. Open to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

• Walgreens: FluMist and injections available for $35 via walk-in during business hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

• Quick Care. Three-strain injections available for $25 for ages 4 and up. Available by walk-in during business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays; and 8:40 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

• Medicap Pharmacy: High dose injection for $70, three strain injection for $38, FluMist for $50 and intradermal for $50. Four-strain vaccine will likely be available at a later date. Vaccines available for children 6 months to 10 years old from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Adult vaccinations available via walk-ins 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Medicap Pharmacy will host a flu shot clinic at the Mower County Senior Center from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 2.

— Costs will vary with health insurance.